Jardín is well worth visiting. If you have time to visit only one town in the Antioquia department, it should be Jardín. However, with the travel time it’s not worth doing on a day trip. Take the time to spend the night and enjoy this hidden gem that won’t be hidden for much longer.
Transportation to Jardín is easy to find from Medellín. It’s about 3 ½ hours from Medellín by bus. Companies like Rápido Ochoa and Transportes Suroeste serve travelers to Jardín. It costs COP$18,000 one way. Shared taxis with four people are also common from Medellín and rates are usually reasonable.
If coming from the south, there are two daily buses from Riosucio, usually on a traditional chiva. They cost COP$19,000 one way and take roughly three hours down a gravel road that’s very dusty and dangerous at a few points. Those buses are run by Cootransrio and leave Riosucio at 8am and 3pm daily, but on Saturdays only at 12pm. From Jardín to Riosucio, they run on the same schedule except at 2pm in the afternoon. You can also go from the south via La Pintada on any bus bound for Bolombolo. Get off at the crossroads at Peñalisa and grab one of the buses bound for Jardín. That route is much smoother.
For restaurants, I can recommend Las Margaritas. It’s located on the plaza and serves traditional Colombian food with set menus. I had the Pollo Margarita, which was chicken breast baked in parmesan cheese. My girlfriend Marisol had a Bandeja Paisa which wasn’t very traditional and was lacking a few essential items. Our meals together cost COP$34,000.
Another good little place is Café Europa, just a short walk from the plaza. They have a small menu with delicious pasta and pizza dishes at excellent prices.
On our first trip, we stayed at a small hotel run out of a house. Hostal Famihotel Fundadores was located just a few blocks from the plaza. The owner was the sweetest lady you can imagine but we weren’t too happy with the room. It was much tinier than advertised and we couldn’t fit in the bathroom. The pictures on Booking.com were much different, bigger, and more traditional rooms. For COP$80,000 with breakfast included, we felt it was way overpriced. It’s better to search around.
On our second trip with friends, they stayed at Hotel Casa Grande. It offered simple yet comfortable rooms with wifi for just COP$50,000. It’s located just a half block from the bus companies and two blocks from the plaza.
Across the street there’s a small butcher shop and the owner rents out apartments above the shop. They have a full kitchen and private bathroom. You can probably bargain him down to COP$50,000 a night like we did. Otherwise, the hotel across the street is a great option.